ALANA Cultural Center Searches for an Assistant Director

Colgate University’s Africana, Latin, Asian and Native American Cultural Center (ALANA) is currently in the process of finding a new assistant director to deliver the educational programs and initiatives that support and improve student’s experiences on campus. The search committee, composed of both students and faculty, are screening over 40 candidates who applied for the position, according to ALANA Directer Esther Rosbrook. Interviews will continue during the rest of the week of Sunday, Sept. 13, with tentative plans to make a decision early in the week of Sunday, Sept. 20.

In looking for an Assistant Director, Rosbrook admits that it is “not easy” to work in a position that is so focused on social justice and multiculturalism, and that it is important to find a candidate with a positive attitude to face these challenges.

“[We focus on] trying to create this understanding that we are here at Colgate as deserving community members trying to accomplish the same goals. People came to Colgate with different outlooks and different motivations, different goals but how to unite them and bring them together, being strategic to accomplish these goals can be a hard and difficult task,” Rosbrook said.

Rosbrook discussed how last winter, during an anti-racism workshop at ALANA, she learned that it was many students’ first time ever stepping into ALANA as they were under the impression that ALANA is only a space for people of color. 

“That is a misperception. ALANA Cultural Center is for everyone. We welcome everyone to come and take advantage of our existence on campus. It is very important for us, I think, to build that alliance with those who have different identities and backgrounds. Our work is so critical and, as I said, not always easy and therefore we have to reach out to everyone to carry this mission,” Rosbrook said. “For this assistant director role, [we want] somebody who can actually build alliances with campus partners and different corners of the campus community.”

The new assistant director would be tasked with designing signature events and educational initiatives that support students of various identities and backgrounds on campus, while spreading the message that ALANA is “here for everyone and anyone,” Rosbrook said.

Rosbrook also emphasizes the importance of choosing a candidate who will uphold ALANA’s five tenants and carry on its mission from the approach of education. These tenants include a commitment to community building, social justice, celebrating the unique cultures and histories of Colgate’s students, faculty and staff, helping students feel empowered to take ownership of their lives and peer education and engagement, according to ALANA’s page on the university website

In addition to collaborating in creating initiatives on campus, Rosbrook said the new assistant director will be responsible for preparing students to succeed and have meaningful experiences “outside of the classroom,” through advising, mentoring and coaching sessions. 

“We believe that [in] students’ lived experiences on campus, either social experiences or leadership or academic experiences, we have some kind of responsibility in those experiences. And so, that is one thing this person is going to take on, with me, of course,” Rosbrook said.

The onset of Covid-19 has not impeded ALANA’s plans or activities, now taking place primarily virtually, and many of the virtual programs have garnered successful turnout, where many students and even alumni are able to attend events. The situation, Rosbrook stressed, has allowed ALANA to be adaptable, innovative and creative in the ways they find to reach out and bring people together. 

This semester, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations for Affinity and Identity Programs Veronica McFall will be planning programming alongside ALANA as part of the Mosaic Initiative, an initiative to “connect multicultural alumni with each other and that support domestic students of color and international students,” according to the University website. McFall hopes to transform the Mosaic Weekend of past years, a chance for alumni and students of color to network and connect, to a Mosaic Week. 

“We’ll be able to offer more opportunities for students to hear speakers and interact with alumni virtually,” McFall said. “It really helps to eliminate the barrier of travel which would prevent a lot of alums from coming to campus. So it’s easier for them to sit where they are, take a break from whatever they’re doing and just visit with students and share their wisdom with them.”

In addition, ALANA has six events planned for Latinx Heritage Month from Tuesday, Sept. 15 until Thursday, Oct. 15. With upcoming events and initiatives, Rosbrook said that more manpower is needed to deliver an educational approach that will benefit the community, and that the assistant director’s presence will be hugely helpful in that.

“It is critical for us to take any opportunities to get ourselves out there, through our initiatives programs, collaborations, advising, mentorships, coaching and [helping] our students to have better lived experiences while they are at Colgate,” Rosbrook said. “I hope that the stigma that ALANA cultural center is only for certain populations on campus can be improved. We do want people to know that ALANA cultural Center is here for everyone.”